“Morning from the new Top Gear team. All present and correct and smelling of eau de petrol.” And on that bombshell… Chris Evans revealed the complete line up of Top Gear’s new presenters. For the BBC’s motoring flagship there are six smiling new faces beaming out at the world, and one Stig – fresh from a reprogramming and having an uprated processor installed.
The sudden influx of known and unknown presenting talent was always going to cause a stir. Gary Lineker recently joked that he was the only person who wasn’t a member of the Top Gear team. And Tiff Needell took his Twitter followers on a trip down memory lane, with a front cover of the Radio Times from 1993 – the last time there were a similar number of presenters fronting Top Gear.
Last time there were seven Top Gear presenter we couldn’t all fit in the car … pic.twitter.com/kIryJGcJm5
— Tiff Needell (@tiff_tv) February 11, 2016
Meanwhile, The Sun newspaper revealed that Chris Harris, one of the new faces, had previously predicted that the Top Gear format would not work with new hosts. And Esquire asked whether Top Gear was still the worst-dressed show on TV.
So who are they? What makes them tick? Where can you see them in action? And are they any better dressed than Jeremy Clarkson? Read on to find out the answers to all this and more…
Top Gear’s lead presenter: Chris Evans
At the head of the Top Gear table sits Chris Evans. Said to be a workaholic, the 50-year old rises bright and early to host BBC Radio 2 from 6.30 every morning. He has also presented the likes of The One Show and TFI Friday, but has stepped down to concentrate on shaping the new format of Top Gear.
Quite what that format will be is open to question. However, having two big-name presenters – Evans and former Friends star Matt LeBlanc – and four relatively unknown faces suggests the show may adopt the style of having roving reporters and anchormen in the studio.
Many people have taken to social media to ridicule what they perceive to be the BBC’s politically correct presenting team.
Evans on the new lineup: “We really do have a bit of everything for everyone.”
Top Gear’s eye-candy: Matt LeBlanc
Yes, LeBlanc has posted the fastest ever lap for Top Gear’s ‘Star in a reasonably priced car’ feature. And yes, he’s said to be a self-confessed petrolhead, with a serious car collection and around 100 dirt bikes. But let’s face it, LeBlanc is on Top Gear as the official eye-candy for its huge worldwide audience.
Best known as Joey Tribbiani, the character from smash hit sitcom Friends that he played for 10 years, he was earning as much as $1 million per episode by the time the final series aired. Between then and now, he has worked for the BBC, fronting Top Gear – The Races which picked seven of the most memorable races from the first 21 series of the show.
Evans on LeBlanc: “A fellow lifelong petrolhead from the other side of the pond.”
Top Gear’s woman: Sabine Schmitz
Being German and a woman is about as far removed from Jeremy Clarkson, James May or Richard Hammond as you can possibly get. Sabine Schmitz doesn’t care one bit; she’ll let her driving do the talking. In fact, she already has. The racing driver and television presenter has form with Top Gear, having thrashed a Ford Transit around the Nürburgring race track in Germany – “Go! Go! Go! Fasten your seat belts!” – and comprehensively beaten a benchmark laptime set by Clarkson in a Jaguar sports saloon. Expect spectacular driving as standard.
Evans on Schmitz: “Very German and very quick. She’s a proven Top Gear favourite and world record holder several times over.”
Top Gear’s F1 motormouth: Eddie Jordan
What can we expect from former racing driver, F1 team boss and BBC F1 pundit? Tough talking in two words. Jordan is more direct than a grand prix car at full speed. Now that the BBC is no longer covering F1, he has been recruited in the hope that he’s going to break some big news stories from the famously closeted world of F1. There will also be fun: Jordan Grand Prix, his former team, had a reputation for throwing great parties until it closed its doors in 2005. At 67-years old, he’s also representing the pensioner contingent of Top Gear’s massive fan base.
Evans on Jordan: “Bonkers, unpredictable, a loose cannon and with more connections than Vodafone”.
Top Gear’s mischief-maker: Chris Harris
It’s fair to say that 41-year old Chris Harris likes to get up to making mischief. He’s been given the cold-shoulder by Lamborghini and Ferrari for his outspoken views about the companies, its people and their cars. And he likes to do silly things with cars that many drivers daydream about, but wouldn’t dare do. Such as take a high-powered Mercedes C63 AMG sports car, fit four skinny space-saver spare wheels in places of the usual, massive wide tyres, and see how crazy the car is to drive as a result. You can see the answer in the video, above.
Evans on Harris: “He’s our online special forces lone-wolf car reviewer”.
Top Gear’s newbie: Rory Reid
It would have been an own-goal for the BBC not to include anyone from its public auditions for a presenting role on Top Gear. If the story is to be believed, Rory Reid is the lucky have-a-go presenter plucked from relative obscurity. As editor of recombu.com, a technology site, the 36-year old has shunned the predictable approach when it comes to reviewing cars, as witnessed by the film of his poem penned for the Roll-Royce Ghost Series II luxury car.
Evans on Reid: “He’s knowledgeable, funny, cool and warm – and a brilliant storyteller.”
Top Gear’s hot shot: The Stig
Some say he never blinks, and that he roams the woods at night foraging for wolves. Some say he was once bitten by a king cobra, and after 6 days of agonizing pain, the cobra died. Some say he won a medal at the Olympics and then ate it. All we know is he’s called The Stig and is a racing driver, or multiple racing drivers – you’d never know beneath those overalls – of some description